For four years, we spent every day, laughing, crying, and studying together at Stanford University. Absent have many become from each other’s thoughts and lives for the past five years. For four days in October, 2002, the past of the Class of 1997 returned to the present at Stanford Reunion.
Five years for four days? When you think about it, how can you compress four years of life together and five years of being apart in four days?
I keep telling myself that things haven’t changed that much. Then, I walk into the CoHo and see the brighly colored walls and the chairs filled with young students yapping on their cell phones and typing away on laptops. This is a far hipper and more connected crowd than we were as students. In just 9 years, there’s an entirely new Science and Engineering Quad, a renovated art museum and main library, a rebuilt Post Office, and a new alumni and student health center. Living in the Bay Area following graduation has afforded me the opportunity to change along with Stanford. In speaking with former students who have lived away from Stanford since graduation, there was a sense of shock at how much had changed since they were last here.
Ah, the Class Book. How smart I’ve become since high school. Stanford asks all high school seniors to send in pictures of themselves after they’ve accepted admission. At the time, I had no idea what they were going to use the photos for, so I had my art teacher snap a few black and whites of me. Though Mrs. Boston was clever in overexposing the photo to compensate for my skin problem, the picture still wasn’t flattering (the fault of the subject, not the photographer!). A few months later, the Freshman Picture Book arrived, and I realized the destiny of those photographs. Oh no! Hundreds of frosh girls would be looking at me and saying, “Yum… okay… good… pass!”
Yes, the truth is out! I used the Freshman Picture Book to determine who was cute and who wasn’t! Part of me wishes I had a better picture of myself in there, but hey that was nine long years ago. Time, like Accutane, heals all those wounds!
The Reunion Committee did make a few mistakes in the otherwise great Class Book. Unless Trevor Gattis had some major plastic surgery, that was not his picture in the Class Book page! Randy notified me of the error; during the Friday Night Class Party, I snapped a photo of Trevor and inserted it into his page. Ladies and gentleman, the true Trevor Gattis!
It was great leafing through the book and seeing what everyone has been up to since graduation. Many have gone back to school and quite a few have gotten married, with some having one (or more) kids already! Only a third of the class ended up sending in a Class Book page, so I wonder what everyone else is up to.
Friday Night Party
Friday night featured the Class of 1997 party at the Lagunita Dining Hall. There weren’t many people when Randy and I arrived around 9:00 pm, but it got very crowded after an hour or so. The first person that we saw was Grace, who used to work with us at the Teahouse. I ran into a number of people from the various dorms and houses that I lived in including Jeff, Maki, Jennifer, Heidy, Antoine, Joe, Clara, Eddie, Wendy, Mike, Susan, Megan, Maren, Mark, and Nima from Donner, Phil and Amanda from Xanadu, and Ryan and Cari from the Delt House. Life does exist outside of the dorms, and I caught up with fellow classmates like John, Cyrus, Grace, Michael, Jason, and Jennifer, fellow Stanford in France people like Supriya and Tamar, Symbolic Systems majormates like Sasha, and a host of other random people from my college years. There were also people whom I didn’t know during Stanford but met after graduation, like Howard, Crystal, Suzi, and Khahn.
The Reunion Committee must have hired some guy from PartyPics, since he was there snapping digital pictures and handing out his business card. Someone from the Stanford News Service was also there taking pictures. Here are some of mine from Friday night:
The atmosphere was a little surreal throughout the night. At times, I felt as if the past five years just melted away, leaving us back as we once were, seniors at Stanford. The clothes, cell phones, and digital cameras brought me back to reality, however. We never had those things as students! The intellectual power and money quotient was no doubt off the scale Friday night. What things we could accomplish if we all banded together to work on a common project!
Unfortunately, the Class Party was short-lived. We spent four years together only to have three hours (since the Reunion staff was trying to kick us out after midnight) to reunite and catch up? Randy and I left around 12:30 am. I heard from Heidy later on that the cops came around 1:30 to shuffle everyone out! What’s up with that?
The highlight of Saturday was the Class of 1997 Tailgate before the football game. I recognized a number of people from the previous night, but it was clear that more people showed up for this event. Over BBQ delicacies from Armadillo Willy’s, we did the whole “What have you been doing since graduation” conversation once again, this time in broad daylight where you could actually see and hear the other person!
In the afternoon, Randy, Mike, and I went to Cubberley Auditorium, where there was an alumni film festival, featuring Back In Action (Ashley Postlewaite, ’87), Roadside Assistance (Jennifer Derwingson ’92), and Revolution OS (J.T.S. Moore, ’92). I was looking forward to seeing Tatooine or Bust, but since Jason Wishnow couldn’t make it to Reunion, they decided not to show it. Boo hiss!
While we were waiting for the films to begin, I caught in the corner of my eye someone who was pulling a Newton out of his bag! Scott turned out to be a ’97 grad too who recently dusted off his Newton from the closet to replace his Palm organizer. How about that for a switch!
Cardinal Sin made their grand appearance at the tailgate. Peikwen, Chris, Tyrone, Bill, and Christian set up their equipment and blasted out tunes. They did always seemed to be “45 minutes away from their show,” but I don’t think anyone minded. At least I was able to snag a prized Press Pass from them!
I had originally arranged a Donner Reunion and a Symbolic Systems Reunion for all of Sunday. In talking with people on Friday and Saturday, however, I learned that many were leaving either Saturday evening or Sunday morning. As a result, Sunday was relatively quiet in Cupertino. Heidy and Antoine dropped by to say hello on their way to drive Cyrus to the airport. Max and Rula came by in the evening to say hello and talk about Symbolic Systems, Palm, and life in New York and Menlo Park.
And, just like that, Stanford Reunion was over. People have returned to their homes around the world and have resumed their lives.
Ten from our class are no longer with us. I knew Evan, but not the other nine. May the remembrance of their lives give us strength and inspiration to live our own to the fullest potential.
- Robert Becker
- Evan Chen
- Joanne Cremin
- Rodwell Dart
- Bart McCormick
- John Schlesinger
- Henry Tien
- Travis Walston
- Hayley Wester
- Jessica Williams
I never documented like I do today when I was a student at Stanford. Descriptions of people and recollections of events back then were committed to my written journal. Those words, however, don’t bring back the vivid memories and emotions that a single photograph provides me today. I did have a camera during my stay in France, and those photos provide the bulk of my photographic memories from the Farm. The rest come from, believe it or not, the Freshman Picture Book, the Donner 93-94 Yearbook, and a few photos from friends and family.
Next stop, 10 years!